Sometimes reality demands insanity and dreams become the space of the sane. Right now, I’m insane, I’m real and I’m okay with it.
I wake up some mornings wanting to be nothing but a farmer.
A simple farmer. I want to wake up with the first rays of the sun and work hard in the fields all day. Ploughing, raking, tilling the land. I want to indulge in hard labour. I know that would make me happy. I know it in my bones.
A simple farmer. I don’t want to grow exotic fruit or rare flowers. I want to grow rice. I want to grow wheat. I want to grow corn.
And then I get out of bed, go to work and I can’t eat the rest of the day.
Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, without food. That’s an impressive feat, even for him.
But what truly impresses me is that he did it without a pair of sunglasses.
If there’s one thing that I feel terribly guilty about, it’s this. Every single time I visit a construction site, I come back with at least one or two pens that I didn’t leave the office with. On some occasions, the number is even more embarrassing.
It’s not like I mean to take a precious pen away from its rightful owner, it’s just that somehow, when it comes to pens I’m just terribly absent-minded. When surrounded by workers and contractors on site, each with their list of doubts and questions, amid the frenzy, while trying to sort out each ones specific problem or list of general woes, in the midst of drawing a sketch for one, or explaining a detail to another through a section or isometric or just through simple line diagrams, somewhere within that whirlwind, it happens. The pen that I borrow from the head carpenter or the plumber or the chai-walla somehow finds its way into my life forever. It just creeps in.
So much so that now, when I’m at site and I see more than two or three workers huddled up together, I’m sure of it. I’m sure they are comparing notes on who lost more pens to me and how. I’m sure they are having secret competitions and bets on who will lose their coveted piece of stationary to me-the pen snatcher. I’m sure they even christened me that, if not something worse, or maybe they held a contest to decide that too. I’m sure their break times are filled with tragic narrations of how I so convincingly wiggled a pen out from an unsuspecting worker, only to distract him with my many and varied gimmicks that end with the final vanishing act and a lone pen-less, dejected workman.
My guilt has even caused me to have dreams in which one of the labourers stands up for me and tries to convince the others of my innocence and pens the whole situation down to a mixture of absent-mindedness and frenzy. He gathers the workers and tries in his best oratorical tone to make them see that I’m just like any one of them, barring the fact that for some reason the universe has caused me to be a giant pen-magnet. How unfortunate must my fate be for a burden like that to be thrust on my weak shoulders, or in my case, behind my ears, in my hair, in my denim pockets, on my collar or even in my mouth. He tries to gather some sympathy for my unfortunate condition. Just then, I hear it, the ‘boos’ from the crowd of workers who multiply and suddenly transform into crowds larger than the ones Jesus preached to, and I almost see my hero, suffer a similar fate as the orator of the multitudes.
Ah, guilt can be a terrible thing, and for someone who doesn’t feel too guilty too often, it can feel like a slice of hell. I tried to recall the specifics of Galileo’s lectures on hell. He had so simply and eloquently described the size, dimensions and even the location of hell. I squinted hard trying to recollect the details so that I could judge if I’d be okay being doomed there forever. Or maybe there was a lower version of hell, one for petty thieves and junk-food vendors away from the hell of the biggies-the murderers and politicians.
I squinted, I wondered, I asked for answers to the ultimate question- why me, why this, why? I even wondered if it wasn’t me but someone else, something else at play here. A cat perhaps?
And just then walked in my salvation, N. Well she didn’t know it yet. In fact she looked quite dejected herself. Before I could even ask what was bothering her, she looked at me with childish guilt in her eyes and told me that she was probably being mocked at the office for losing copious amounts of stationary.
She confided in me saying, “I don’t know what it is, but every time I leave the office with at least two or three pens and return from site with none. I just always seem to leave them behind. Either on the carpenters bench or on a workman’s table, sometimes magically even in the hands of the chai-walla.”
I breathed a sigh of relief, followed by a look of ‘I figured out your little game’. It was the universe at play again shamelessly entertaining itself- the fluid dance of the stationary attract-er and the motioned distributor. Oh well, at least this meant no pen-ance for me.
While waiting at a traffic light yesterday, a eunuch looked at me, smiled and said, “May all your wishes come true.”
That made me unexpectedly sad.
What do I wish for? Something I’m not sure I want? Someone I’m not sure I need? Or someone I know I can’t have?
Instead I wished for the thing that’s best for me.
And today I wish the same for you S.
A man came up to me. A stranger. He looked into my eyes and said, “I have 99 problems and 98 of them can be solved by money.” And then he looked away.
But in that ‘blink-of-an-eye’ moment in which our eyes met, I could see clearly, that the only solution he truly craved was the lone one.
I’m not usually one for clichés. A protagonist running around all over a movie in a garbage bag screaming out hopeful things about silver linings wouldn’t normally go down too well with me. Neither would two people literally dancing their way into each other’s lives while participating in a dance competition appeal very much to me. And it’s not because I’m not hopeful and it’s not because I’m a dance –grinch. It’s just that I’d normally prefer my movies without a sprinkling of inarticulate clichés.
Thankfully, Silver Linings Playbook, is anything but. The movie is absolutely lovely and human. The characters are so convincing and oddly lovable. In most scenes, more than 80% of the people in the frame are absolutely bananas, each with their own brand of madness nailed to the tee. I love the scenes where almost everyone’s talking all at once, and yet there’s a feeling that everyone’s actually listening to the other as well. That to me is brilliant; it’s exactly how families work, dysfunctional or otherwise.
And like Dr. Patel says, maybe all we need is to figure out a strategy, a play that would help us read the signs more clearly, because everyone’s ‘silver lining’ is probably just waiting to ambush them. And today I felt like just maybe mine is too.